Wolf v. WeberAnnotate this Case
Wolf and her husband were walking with their dog in Tilden Regional Park. Dogs are allowed off-leash in this area, under their owners’ control. Weber and Cenek were walking on the same trail with Luigi, a “large” Argentinian Mastiff-Boxer mix. Both dogs were off-leash. Luigi wandered toward Wolf’s party. Weber and Cenek heard Wolf yell that she was afraid. Weber called for Luigi several times. Luigi began to return to Weber but Wolf turned away from Luigi. Something struck her in the back of her knee; she fell, dislocating her ankle and breaking two leg bones. Weber admitted that Luigi was not under perfect control.
Wolf sued Weber, alleging negligence and negligence per se. Wolf alleged Weber breached his duty of care “by failing to leash or otherwise control Luigi.” The negligence per se action contended Weber violated the ordinance by failing to keep his dog under control. The court granted Weber summary judgment, finding that Wolf assumed the inherent risk of “being bumped by a dog.”
The court of appeal reversed, finding that the primary assumption of risk doctrine did not apply. Given the duties and expectations that the park's ordinance establishes, being knocked over by an unleashed dog with which a person has sought no interaction is not an inherent risk. Controlling one’s dog is part of the “fundamental nature” of hiking on the park's leash-optional trails.